The State of
Human Rights in the Country, A State of Brokenness
A press statement of the National
Council of Churches in the Philippines on the International Human
Rights Day 2022
December 10, 2022
“Speak up for those who cannot
speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31:8-9, NIV
For the National Council
of Churches in the Philippines, the state of human rights in our
country is in a state of brokenness. When human rights are denied
and violated, God’s image is also violated in us, as we are created
in God’s image. It is therefore our continuing duty as Christians to
claim, restore and defend whatever rights have been denied and
December 10, 2022, is the
74th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The
Declaration recognizes dignity and rights as inherent and
inalienable to all human beings. The Philippines was among the 48
countries that voted for the Declaration and has its principles
enshrined in our Constitution.
However, the full
enjoyment of human rights by the Filipino people remains elusive.
Prices of food continue to
soar especially on agricultural products that were affected by
various policies on import liberalization including that of the Rice
Tariffication Law. Thus, many families are going hungry each day, as
prices of basic commodities shoot up, and people continue to suffer.
Sadly, the solution of the
government under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is to resort to more
borrowing despite a P12.1 trillion debt that it inherited from the
Duterte administration, and to come up with highly dubious financial
schemes like the much-criticized Maharlika Wealth Fund.
Meanwhile, the climate of
impunity continues to worsen. According to the University of the
Philippines Third World Studies Center, there have been 127 deaths
connected with the war on drugs from July 1 to November 7 this year,
mostly attributed to state security forces.
President Marcos Jr. has
also inherited his predecessor’s machinery against legitimate
dissent like the Anti-Terrorism Law and the Anti-Terrorist Financing
Law. Thus, the constriction of civic and democratic spaces continues
and there are more vicious patterns of attacks against human rights
defenders. According to Karapatan, 937 human rights defenders have
been killed since 2001.
The practice of filing
trumped-up charges against activists, and human rights defenders,
including among church people, continues in many parts of the
country. Rev. Glofie S. Baluntong, of the United Methodist Church
who has been serving our Mangyan sisters and brothers on the island
of Mindoro for many years, has recently been falsely charged with
violation of the Anti-Terrorism Law.
The other church people
who are facing trumped-up charges and are currently detained are
Pastor Jimmy Teves, a lay pastor of UCCP; Rev. Nathaniel “Dodo”
Vallente, of the UCCP, a peasant advocate, and, Aldeem Yanez of the
Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), former NCCP Vice Chairperson
for Youth and a composer of hymns.
The Rural Missionaries of
the Philippines (RMP) and the UCCP Haran and UCCP Fatima in Bohol
are facing cases related to the Anti-Terrorism Financing Act.
Meanwhile, the NTF-ELCAC
continues its red-tagging overdrive of various individuals and
groups including churches and church leaders. They conduct smear
drives and disinformation in online and offline spaces. The military
also “visits” communities and parishes only to sow fear in the
people, branding activists, church leaders, and organizations as
supporters or members of communist terrorist groups. Recent subjects
of their attacks include the UCCP, and Bishop Emelyn Dacuycuy of the
IFI Diocese of Batac, Ilocos Norte.
Rev. Edwin Egar, UCCP
pastor, and Karapatan Southern Tagalog Interim Officer was visited
by elements of the 59th Infantry Battalion of the AFP. He was asked
to surrender and was also told that he was a target of a search
warrant. He and his wife, Rev. Julieta Egar, and former barangay
captain Ronald Ramos, a UCCP member, filed for a writ of amparo
against several ranking military officials.
We thus call on the
government of President Marcos, Jr. to follow all international
human rights standards and to heed the various recommendations made
by member states during the 4th cycle of the Universal Periodic
Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Councils. Especially
recommendations calling for a stop to red-tagging, a review of the
Anti-Terrorism Law, and even the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC.
As bearers of Christ's
love and righteousness, we fervently call on the churches for
continued prayer and action in championing and defending human
rights, especially of those who are poor and oppressed and to be
united in restoring wholeness and the image of God in all of us.
December 10, 2022
Rev. Felipe B. Ehican, Jr.
Rt. Rev. Joel O. Porlares
Dr. Gay B. Manodon
Ma. Kay Catherine F.
Ms. Minnie Ann Mata-Calub
Acting General Secretary